“Andersonville” Movie Post

April 3rd, 2013


Andersonville is a made-for-TV movie released in 1996 that tells the story of a group of Union soldiers who were captured by Confederates and sent to the prisoner-of-war camp Sumter, located near Andersonville, Georgia. As soon as they enter the prison camp, they are forced to adjust to the awful living conditions and constant danger of the rogue “Raider” group of prisoners. The “Raiders” act as a mob force within the camp, hoarding and stealing rations and bullying new arrivals. The group of captives that act as the protagonists in the movie find allies in another set of prisoners and they work together to complete a tunnel they can use to escape. The escape is attempted one night, but they are caught and put in the stockades. The Confederate guards of the prison play a huge role in the film. Cruel and vindictive, the guards constantly tempt prisoners to step over the fence line so they can shoot them. The head guard in particular is the most ruthless and his methods are questioned by a higher-ranking official. Anyway, the captives are sprung from the stockades by the highest ranking official (who is more sympathetic) and released back into the prison, where the Raiders attack them. Tensions between these groups increase until one of their friends is killed. Many of the prisoners call for the execution of all the Raiders, but one of the more outspoken prisoners decides that they should be given a fair trial first. After testimonies given by prisoners detailing their exploits, the raiders are sentenced to hanging. After their execution, life in the prison is peaceful while conditions worsen. Many die and as the film ends, the Confederate guard announces that they are to be exchanged, freeing them from Andersonville.

This film is shown from the perspective of the Union soldiers, solidifying them as the heroes and the Confederates as the antagonists. However, not all Union soldiers are good; the raiders are their peers and enemies. This shows the division within the Union and how the awful conditions at Andersonville can turn people against each other. The Confederate guards are portrayed as vengeful and unforgiving, constantly jeering at the Union soldiers, calling them “damn rebs” and enjoying their suffering. The only Confederate who seems to show any sympathy is the high-ranking colonel who threatens to report the mistreatment of prisoners to “those in Richmond” so that conditions can improve. The conditions in the camp as portrayed in the movie are close to what history tells us- gruesome. The filmmaker does a good job of creating the correct atmosphere of desperation in the camp, which makes the movie engaging. Overall, the movie shows a very one-sided approach to the events at Andersonville, that of the Union prisoners and doesn’t add anything to the story of the Confederate guards. I thought the movie almost over-played the heroic-ness of the prisoners, especially with the trial and how they would observe justice so strictly in the camp. I think that the movie would go over really well with those with Union ties and perpetuates their narrative of the Civil War. The strongest aspect of the film was how it showed the grim reality of the Civil War and how it blurred lines of brotherhood and humanity.

Training of Civil War Re-enactors (Union Soldiers)

March 25th, 2013

After reading about the lengths re-enactors go for authenticity in Horwitz’s book, I wanted to know how they prepare. I found this video that shows the steps and training re-enactors go through in order to have a perfect re-enactment.

Documentary: Celebration Confusion

March 25th, 2013

documentary bib

Importance of religion for Southern soldiers

March 20th, 2013

While reading all of the essays for this week, I felt like the topic of religion was left out of the conversation. So I began looking around on the internet about how soldiers felt about religion during the war, and I stumbled upon this article, which I found interesting (even though its an opinion piece)…http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/07/06/onward-southern-soldiers/

Definite fashion DON’T no matter what you think about the Civil War…

March 18th, 2013



Building the Lincoln Memorial

February 27th, 2013

After numerous readings about memorial societies, ceremonies and monuments, I got curious about the history behind Lincoln Memorial. As one of the most famous and imposing monuments in the United States, I thought I should know more about it than I did.  Here’s a link that gives an account of its construction and dedication with pictures going through the process. Its interesting to compare its history with that of the Robert E. Lee memorial in Richmond, or other Confederate memorials.

The Lincoln Memorial: Construction & Dedication Photographs

Illustrating the 1896 Election

February 20th, 2013

Reading Fahs and Waugh’s chapter on the Presidential election of 1896 got me interested in the ways both sides used propaganda to gain votes. From what I got from the text, the McKinely team outdid Bryan by a landslide, and I found some examples on the internet that I thought were really interesting…

Project Proposal

February 20th, 2013

For my project I want to explore the changing public opinion and participation in Robert E. Lee day, especially focusing on how it coincides with Martin Luther King, Jr. Day in Virginia. documentary proposal

Making it Official in Mississippi

February 6th, 2013

While the majority of Americans know January 21 to be Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, the holiday also serves to commemorate one of the most famous Confederates, Robert E. Lee. Since the holiday was celebrated recently, I found it worth looking into in more detail. I understood that there were ceremonies and rituals by Southerners to honor Lee, I didn’t know that it was officially accepted by forms of the government. I came across this publication by the Mississippi Secretary of State that clearly states that on January 21st goverment offices are to be closed in remembrance of MLK AND Lee. It surprised me that this was important for the government to endorse, and shows that the admiration of Lee is alive and well.


Decoration Days

January 17th, 2013

One thing that I found really interesting from the readings was a part in Blight’s Race and Reunion that introduced Decoration Days and how it was the beginning of what we now celebrate as Memorial Day. Celebrated in both the North and South, it was something that everyone could relate to. The effects of the Civil War were so far reaching that almost every American knew someone who died in the fighting. It was interesting to see that as the years progressed, the purpose of Decoration Days evolved to suit the needs of society.